It has only been several weeks since Google+ opened its door to limited users and it has already created plenty of buzz. While many people still have not gotten their invites, there are already 10 million users on the platform and a billion items shared per day. If you find yourself terribly addicted to Google+, Here are 15 Google Chrome extensions that make using Google+ a better experience.
Is the Google+ design too bland for your taste? You can now customize the color and style of Google+ with Googlt+ Ultimate. Things that you can customize include the background, scrollbars, left and top panel, navigation bar, image size in stream, side-by-side view (for large monitor).
GTools+ is developed by the same developer as Google+ Ultimate. It acts as a complement to Google+ Ultimate and allows you to customize the Google bar as well as integrating the chat feature to the Google bar.
There is something about Google Chrome which I have not seen in any other browser. It is one of the fastest growing browsers across the world and currently has around 20% usage world wide.
Many tech related websites around the world are seeing that Google Chrome has been overtaking Firefox. Last year both TechCrunch and Techmeme reported that Chrome was the most users on their site which prompted me to write the article; Why is Chrome Winning and Firefox Losing Market Share?. Back then, Chrome’s market share was around 10% was constantly growing on our site too.
Recently, I wrote an article on How Chrome is Growing in India and Hurting Microsoft and Mozilla. In that article, I delved upon how Chrome has been dominating Indian markets even though the internet usage there is around 15% of the population. This definitely showed how much impact Chrome has had on the browser market.
Recently, I was checking the browser market share for Techie Buzz and found that Chrome has overtaken Firefox by a small margin. Last month, Chrome was behind Firefox by 2%, so the month over month growth is pretty impressive. This means that almost 1+ million out of the 3.5+ million users on the site were using Google Chrome to visit Techie Buzz.
One of the reasons for Google Chrome’s growth is the heavy advertising Google is doing for it. I see many ads which pitch users to play Angry Birds on Google Chrome and I can swear that those have converted many users to switch to Chrome including my own brother who is a big Angry Birds fan.
Google is also landing some punches on rival browsers like Firefox and Internet Explorer by stopping development on certain products while providing plugins for them too. Recently, Google has decided to stop development of Google Toolbar for Firefox 5. This has sent Mozilla in a frenzy because lot of users are not upgrading to Firefox 5 from Firefox 4 because of the incompatibility of the add-on.
Google also provides Internet Explorer users with something called as Google Chrome Frame to bring Google Chrome’s technology to Internet Explorer. As you can see from our browser stats, we have around 0.13% IE users who have installed the Google Chrome Frame.
Additionally, Google has also been blocking several features in their products on Opera. Our in-house Opera guru Pallab has always been finding problems using Google’s features on Opera including the recently introduced Google Instant.
So is Google intentionally doing all these things to switch users to their own browsers? It could very well be possible, however, they are also backing that up with an excellent browser and I for one have been using Google Chrome as my primary browser since it launched and yes some of the new features in it including the Multiple Chrome Profiles are definitely good.
What do you think about Chrome’s dominance? Is it good or bad? Do you use Google Chrome as your primary browser? If not which one do you prefer to use? Please let me know through your comments.
Google is moving in many directions—mobile, browsers, productivity apps, operating systems, social. At first glance, it may seem like it is trying ever so hard to move beyond its giant one-trick pony: search. What people keep forgetting is that it is a pretty good trick. Benchmark Capital VC Bill Gurley reminds us how good this trick is in an excellent post that looks at Google’s market expansion strategy not as one of a series of aggressive offensives, but rather a highly defensive strategy.
Warren Buffet famously describes the best businesses as “economic castles protected by unbreachable ‘moats.’” Search is Google’s economic castle (perhaps with other forms of online advertising such as display thrown in there), and everything else is a moat trying to protect that castle. Android is a moat. The Chrome browser is a moat. The Chrome OS is a moat. Google Apps is a moat. These are all free products, subsidized by search profits, that are intended to protect the economic castle that is search.
Apple mobile iOS devices (iPads, iPhones, and iPod Touches) are used by 130 million people, but they present a huge blindspot to advertisers. All Apple mobile devices use the Safari browser, as do millions of Apple laptop and desktop computers. Safari blocks third-party cookies by default, which is good for privacy and good for consumers. But it is bad for advertisers who rely on browser cookie tracking to measure the effectiveness of their ads.
Marin Software, which offers a way to manage paid search advertising, conducted a study it provided to TechCrunch which shows that 80 percent of the time iOS devices don’t count paid-search conversions (i.e., clicks) because cookie-tracking is turned off. On the Mac, the undercounting occurs 50 percent of the time. All told, when you count all browsers, 38 percent of all paid-search clicks are not being counted.
“One reason online education isn’t that good is I don’t think it is trying to be that good,” says John Katzman, the CEO of 2tor, an online education startup that is trying to break that mold. The company, headquartered in New York City’s Chelsea Piers, just raised a $32.5 million series C financing, led by Bessemer Venture Partners. All of its existing investors—Highland Capital, Redpoint, Novak Biddle, City Light—re-upped. Since it was founded in 2008, 2Tor has raised a total of $65 million.
As we heard last week, Twitter made a bold move regarding its ecosystem, stating that third-party developers should no longer try to compete with Twitter on native clients; instead they should focus on things like data and specific verticals for Tweets. In the email sent to developers, Twitter said that some 90 percent of active Twitter users now use official Twitter apps on a monthly basis to access the service. Social media analytics company Sysomos decided to track Tweets on the day that Twitter made this announcement to determine if there was any truth to this assertion.
The social ecommerce giant, which has raised $232 million in venture capital to date and has been getting nearly as acquisitive as its rival Groupon lately, says InfoEther’s agility and expertise will enhance its ability to innovate more effectively.
Terms of the acquisition were not disclosed.
InfoEther is a leading technology consultancy shop specialized in the open-source Ruby software development language and its related Web development framework, Ruby on Rails, which is the basis of the technology upon which LivingSocial is based.
In the location space, there’s something that has long been the missing link: a unified places database. The problem, of course, is that all the major players, Foursquare, Facebook, Google, Gowalla, Loopt, etc, have their own databases. But today Foursquare is taking the first steps towards unification — well, if the others play along.
Foursquare is launching an initiative that they’re calling the “Venues Project” or “venue harmonization coordination”. Their aim is to create the “social places database,” as co-founder Dennis Crowley calls it. “Some folks have taken a stab at this, but we think we can do it the right way,” he says.
To kick things off, Foursquare is rolling out a new set of APIs and removing restrictions on their venue APIs that they previously had in place. “Like every other API, we had pretty strict rate-limiting. We’ve removed a lot of those,” Crowley notes.
Those blog posts have been read by 400 million readers across the globe, Kim adds. And according to the video below, 75 percent of traffic comes from outside the United States (the service is available in 50 languages).
Now the product is getting an overhaul, the biggest change being a more modern user interface for both the editor and the dashboard (fi-na-lly), built with Google Web Toolkit.
Google says it will be showcasing the new design of the Blogger back-end at SXSW (our coverage of the event), as well as a new content discovery feature that lets users find new content to read based on the topics of the blog they’re visiting.
The new UI is shown extensively in the video below as well, in case you’re not in Austin.
RedLaser, the barcode scanning mobile app that eBay acquired from Occipital in June 2010, is nearing a significant milestone—nine million total downloads of its iPhone and Android apps. That’s up from 2 million downloads at the time of the acquisitions, which is nearly a 350% increase in downloads.
RedLaser’s barcode scanning technology allows users to comparison shop on the go. Anyone can scan a barcode on an item at a store and then automatically access any eBay listings and local availability (courtesy of Milo) of the product on the marketplace. Sellers can also use the scanning technology to scan and item and list the product in very little time. RedLaser’s technology was also integrated into eBay’s dedicated iPhone and Android apps.
Yesterday, Twitter made a swift and sweeping move to alter their ecosystem. In an email to developers, Twitter laid out the new rules. Essentially, third-party developers should no longer try to compete with Twitter on clients; instead they should focus on things like data and specific verticals for tweets. Not surprisingly, there’s quite a bit of backlash against this maneuver.
In making these changes, Twitter also had to chance their API Terms of Service. And we thought it would be interesting to compare the old ToS to the new one. We can do that thanks to the magic of Google, which has a cached copy of the ToS dated January 3, 2011.
For the next four days if you’re in the tech industry you’re going to hear a non-stop stream of information about SXSW. It’s the time of year when many new startups are struggling to rise above all the noise and be heard. And when everybody is shouting it becomes overwhelming.
I’m actually in Austin at the moment. It turns out this is “the year of group messaging” and since I’m a shareholder in the largest player in the space, TextPlus (7.7m monthly actives), I thought I should come here to represent.
Ten days ago Google discovered that apparently innocuous Android apps were in fact infested with “DroidDream” malware that included an Android rootkit, with the apparent intent of creating a smartphone botnet. It infected more than a quarter of a million devices before Google intervened. The thriller writer in me immediately began to wonder what would happen if black hats built a wildly popular game that doubled as a botnet beachhead. Imagine if Angry Birds was secretly the world’s biggest botnet: even without root access to its install base, those hypothetical black hats could grab private data from tens millions of people, and/or probably DDoS every wireless network in the developed world, especially if it ran as a background service with location access.
Get it here, while it’s hot.
The browser comes not only with speed improvements but also a simpler settings interface (see video) and an extension of Chrome’s sandboxing tech to the integrated Flash Player.
In addition, you can now quickly log on to the websites you frequent even when you switch computers by synchronizing passwords across all your Internet-enabled devices. You can also choose to sync bookmarks, extensions, preferences, themes and more.
“A good player goes where the puck is. A great player goes where the puck is going to be”—The Great One
Google made a few interesting announcements this week. First, Google Docs Viewer support for a sheaf of new document types, including Excel, Powerpoint, Photoshop and PostScript. Second, Chrome’s new ability to run background apps that run seamlessly and invisibly behind the browser. Third, they released Google Cloud Connect, which lets Windows users sync Office documents to Google Docs. They also announced the Android 3.0 SDK – but despite the ongoing tablet hysteria, in the long run, the first three are more important.
Little by little, iteration by iteration, the Chrome browser is quietly morphing into a full-fledged multitasking operating system in its own right. Oh, sure, technically it’s actually running on another OS, but you increasingly never need to launch anything else. View and edit documents in Google Docs, watch and listen to HTML5 video and audio, communicate via Gmail and its Google Voice plugin, use Google Docs as a file system – and the line between “Chrome OS” and “Chrome on any other OS” suddenly grows very fine.
Google’s long-term strategy seems to be to supplant Microsoft by first building the best browser, then making it easy to move your files to Google Docs … and finally, slowly but inexorably, making Windows and Office irrelevant. Obviously no one will abandon Microsoft products wholesale anytime soon; but as cloud computing grows more ubiquitous, Google steadily iterates feature after feature, and people grow accustomed to working in the browser, then one day, maybe only a couple of years from now, a whole lot of people – and businesses – will begin to think to themselves “Hey, we haven’t actually needed Windows or Office in months. Why do we even have them at all?”
The “network computer” dumb-terminal approach has failed many times before … but so did Six Degrees, Tribe.net, Friendster, and (eventually) MySpace, before Facebook came along. The original iMac was roundly criticized because it didn’t have a floppy drive, criticism that now sounds hilariously stupid. We might look back at the first Chrome OS notebook in much the same way. Of course, Chrome can’t actually compete with Windows until always-on broadband Internet access reaches the same level of reliability and ubiquity as electricity itself; but that’s only a matter of time. In the early days of electricity, every factory had its own power plant, and its managers would have been appalled by the notion of outsourcing that vital engine – but soon enough those inefficient installations were replaced by today’s electrical grid. Computing power is the new electricity, and cloud computing is the new grid.
Unlike most companies, when Google says “cloud”, they mean it. Compare Amazon’s cloud-computing service to Google’s. With the former, you essentially call up and configure one or more servers with the OS and specifications of your choice; but with Google’s App Engine, you don’t know anything about its hardware or operating system, because that no longer matters. It just runs the code you give it, and you don’t much care how. Similarly, Chrome is being built for a future where the ambient, omnipresent wireless Internet connects everything from clothes to computers to cars (which explains how their self-driving cars fits into their strategy) and it doesn’t much matter what OS any given device is running.
I’ve criticized Google pretty harshly of late, but credit where it’s due: they still think bigger and further than anyone else. The problem is that all these brilliant strategies are predicated on their continued dominance of the search space, whose users are forever just a whim away from jumping ship to an alternative, and they’ve taken their eye off that ball of late. But at least they’ve finally started cracking down on search spam. It’s a start. Maybe they haven’t grown too bureaucratic and sclerotic to make the Chrome future happen after all.
This feature has existed on various builds of Chrome/Chromium for some time now. But Google hasn’t been touting it, and it wasn’t really clear how it would be used and/or useful. Well today, it’s very clear. And again, very cool. Essentially, Chrome-based web apps are going to be able to be always open, but hidden in the background.
Why would anyone want to use a web app without seeing it? A couple reasons. First, this allows the browser to notify you in realtime of certain updates, like chat requests or new messages. Second, this may allow the browser to pre-render any page so when you do open it, it will load instantly.
Obviously, the trade-off is the memory hit you take by running an app in the background, but presumably these could be coded to have a minimal impact in terms of memory usage.
Essentially, this gives web apps a “push” notification functionality like Apple uses for the iPhone and iPad. It’s a bit different since that system uses Apple own servers to ping your phone and doesn’t require an app to be open at all, but the effect is the same. A user wouldn’t realize the app is open, but would still get alerts about it.
Of course, there’s a security risk there. But Google addresses that in this way:
To protect our users’ privacy, we’ve made this functionality available only to apps and extensions; regular websites will not be able to open background windows. Developers will also need to declare the “background” capability on their apps.
That’s important beyond the security issue. It could make installing web apps actually useful. Up until now, most of the apps in the Chrome Web Store are similar to the ones that already exist on the web. But with this system, you’d have to “install” an app to get this system working.
One of the big issues with Flash is that it introduces all sorts of security vulnerabilities, especially if you don’t have the latest security patches and updates. Google has chosen to embrace Flash both in its Chrome browser and Android OS (as opposed to that other company which won’t let Flash anywhere near its iPhones and iPads). But it wants to minimize the security risks posed by Flash. Today, it is releasing a new version of the Chrome browser for Windows in its beta channel which sandboxes Flash and other extensions. (New versions of chrome are released simultaneously in three channels: developer, beta, and stable). Sandboxing will come to the Mac and Linux versions soon.
Sandboxing isolates websites and applications so that malware doesn’t spread beyond that tab to other parts of your computer. Plug-ins are a huge security hole, which Chrome is attempting to contain. Chrome will also now automatically update Flash for all security patches. With 120 million Chrome users worldwide, this will go far towards making Flash safer. Now if only they could keep Flash from crashing Chrome altogether, that would be something.
In addition to the sandboxing feature, the beta version for Windows will also start loading frequently visited websites when you start tying the URL into the address bar. The page will load before you even finish typing the URL or hit enter. It is like Google Instant for browsing.
Prediction: ChromeOS will be killed next year (or “merged” with Android)
Considering his former employer just launched the Chrome OS pilot program last week, the comment may sting a little over at Mountain View, although it should be noted Buchheit is hardly the only one predicting that Google’s Linux-based operating system will go the way of the Wave soon enough.
Google to date has posited that Android and Chrome OS, its two operating systems, address different markets that will remain distinct despite the growing convergence of the devices they run on (netbooks, tablets, smartphones). Google co-founder Sergey Brin, however, has very recently stated that Google will likely “produce a single OS down the road”.
If the man’s less-than-140-characters prediction is right on the money, Android will become the dominant operating system – and considering its current traction, that would hardly be a surprise – while Chrome OS will perish before 2011 is over.
Update: more from Buchheit in the FriendFeed thread:
ChromeOS has no purpose that isn’t better served by Android (perhaps with a few mods to support a non-touch display).
I was thinking, “is this too obvious to even state?”, but then I see people taking ChromeOS seriously, and Google is even shipping devices for some reason.
Do you agree with his assertion, or do you think Chrome OS and Android can co-exist?
It should be pretty clear by now that Google is taking location very seriously. The original launch of Latitude in early 2009 was just a first step. Now they have robust APIs, Google Places, and key executive Marissa Mayer is now in charge of these and various related projects. And earlier today they finally rolled out a Latitude iPhone app. But if a fairly small tweak to Chrome is any indication, Google means to go deeper still.